Sunday, July 23, 2017

Acceptance and Avoidance

With all of the progress I'm making in my recovery from infertility, I'm still avoiding babies. And toddlers. And my friends and family that are parents to babies and toddlers. And pregnancies. And newborns. It's just too awkward for me. And sad still. Maybe it won't hurt as much with the passing of time.

I'm curious how I'll feel in my 40s. As I grow into the idea that I will not be parenting in this lifetime. As I grow older and know that the children I would've had would also be growing older. As people ask me less and less when I'm having children.  As it becomes less expected by society that I will even have children.

In ten years, will being around 14 year olds bother me? Maybe, maybe not. Will babies and toddlers still tug at my yearning? I don't know.

If I had to guess, I think a part of me will always be a little sad for what's been lost, all the memories and moments and opportunities. I really do like all ages of the human lifespan. And I was looking forward to all of the parts of parenting: the good, the bad, and the expensive.

But as I've met and talked to a couple of women older than me without children, I know that feelings can change with each passing decade. What used to seem impossible to me (living life without children), now holds some exciting possibilities. That doesn't mean I don't miss my children; it just means that I'm making the best of my situation.

But I don't have to explain that to you... :)

So where I am right now, toward the end of July 2017, is simultaneously a place of acceptance and a place of avoidance. I don't know if that makes sense but it doesn't have to make sense, because it's infertility and nothing makes sense. I am currently a little worker bee, doing my best to get through this school program. I don't have much time to be social (although I take at least a night or two off a week to go out to dinner or hang out with my husband), and I'm just not making plans with anyone who has little ones right now...

I accept my reality, but I still avoid any reminders of what I'm missing.
And I accept that that is where I am right now.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Phases of Resilience

I had to read an article about resilience and adversity the other day. Of course, there was no mention of infertility at all even though nearly everything in the article could relate to it. The author talked about trauma and coping strategies and implications for practice in the medical field. I was dreading doing the assignment, and then the article actually ended up being interesting haha. It's so nice when that happens.

The article covered so many themes:

  • extreme life events are threatening
  • loss of one's identity
  • psychological stress due to culture's definitions of what is valuable
  • being in limbo (those with chronic illness)
  • the power of social support.

But one of the most relevant parts was when the author discussed the phases of resilience. I'm paraphrasing but here's the idea real quick. First, there is an acute phase, when all of one's energy is going to the situation. Then there is the reorganization phase, when one begins to accept the new reality. And then there is the rest of one's life. That's it. That's how trauma and crisis goes in a nutshell.

I suppose my experience wasn't totally acute. Acute means short-term and I dealt with infertility over a more long-term period of time. But still. It was a million little acute responses to a chronic condition until I reached my personal point of exhaustion.

It's so interesting to me how much recovery and rehabilitation from all sorts of physical and mental health conditions have so many similarities. It is shocking-not-shocking at the lack of infertility being any part of the conversation in the articles and textbooks I read as a future medical professional.

But I really like it when I read something that describes what I just went through. I think that's why the phases of resilience resonated with me so much.

  1. acute response
  2. reorganization
  3. live the rest of my life 

๐Ÿ˜Ž

Friday, July 7, 2017

Gratitude

In contrast to my constant frustration with waiting for my new planned-for future to arrive (and, yes, the idea of planning anything ever will always be incredibly eye rolling for me) is my ever-present gratitude for what so many refer to as The Present Moment.

I mean, it IS all we ever have.

When did Oprah start telling us to keep gratitude journals? Hold on, I'm gonna search that...
Oh, 1996. Even earlier than I thought. Well, I didn't try the idea until late 2008. At the time I was very unsure of what was going on in my life- where I was, what I was doing. Hmmm, sounds familiar. I wanted to refocus my mind on the positive things I had so I started a gratitude journal. I wrote often at first, always thankful for my health and loved ones. Then I just wrote every couple of weeks or so. Then every couple of months. But I always wrote. Even if I forgot for awhile. I would remember and come back and jot down a few things I was thankful for. And, well, basically, what I want to share is I just now finished that journal. 2008-2017. Nine years of gratitude.

It's pretty cool. The practice helped me shift my thinking over time. I'm not a fan of "positive thinking all the time." Like, I don't think we manifest everything we envision and sometimes life just sucks and it's important to be real and feel that too. But, I do value gratitude. There's usually always something to be thankful for. I have no intentions of finding a silver lining in every situation, but I do like to pause and be thankful for different things.

My health. Well, the parts of my health that are healthy.
My resilience.
My husband.
My dog.
My lack of food insecurity.
My house that I rent.
My school that I attend.
My dreams for the future.
My means to work toward those dreams.

Gratitude helps lighten the load.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting

I know that ultimately everything in life is temporary. We are all born and we all die. The days are long but the years are short. I know all this. But I still have to/get to experience the daily realities of my life. And my life, for over the last five years, has been full of waiting.

The waiting throughout infertility is almost unbearable. Well, because at first, I didn't know I was infertile. So I temped and charted and tried to get pregnant for two years. By then, I figured there was a problem. Actually, I knew there was a problem only 7 months in when I got my AMH results back. But I figured I was subfertile, not sterile, that I would get pregnant and have a baby if I just stayed patient. Then I spent almost a year working with my doctor, whom I loved. But I still didn't get pregnant. Then I spent another year hoping I would be one of those stories who, after all the years and all the treatments didn't work, miraculously got pregnant. Oh gawd, that was a lot of waiting. Like I've said before, it almost killed me.

So my lifelong dream of having children didn't happen. I had to figure something else out.
I hated where I lived and I hated what I was doing. I wanted to change almost my entire life.

And that's awesome! Well... Sorta.  I mean, it's an awesome response to trauma and devastation. I felt like I was dying, and I chose to live. I just had to figure out where and how. 'Cause it sure as hell wasn't happening out in the 'burbs as an infertile housewife.

And you already know: I moved, sold my house, and went back to school blah blah blah.

The thing is though, it's just more WAITING. ๐Ÿ˜ฉ

And hard work.

ZzzZzzZzz

hahaha


I don't want to wish my life away, but...
I am so ready to be living the next phase of my life already.
I am eager to graduate, move, start my new career, put down some roots, and explore new hobbies and volunteering activities. I am ready to live my life. I am so tired of waiting.


Oh well. I'll do it anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚

Sunday, July 2, 2017

A Damn Good Weekend

Heck yeah, I just had a damn good weekend!

I saw one of my best friends on Friday and we got to hang out for a long time. A yoga class turned into lunch turned into good conversation for hours on the deck in her backyard.

Then I came home and somehow talked my husband into going to get dessert with me! He doesn't have a sweet tooth like I do so I was surprised he was up for my little adventure.

On Saturday one of his friends came over for awhile. Nice weather, great conversation.

And today. Nothing significant. But very peaceful and satisfying. Slept in but not too late. Went for a long 4-mile walk outside. Completed an assignment at a leisurely pace. Ate awesome leftovers.

I hate that there's not as much social time in adult life compared to when we were kids.
But weekends like this one sustain me.

I love spending quality time with the people I love. And I love enjoying the little things. ๐Ÿฐ

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Lack of Understanding is a Worldwide Problem

We all gave presentations in one of our classes this week on different cultures' perceptions of disabilities. Each group presented on a different country, which included Japan, Cambodia, India, Turkey, Greece, Tunisia, Nigeria, Romania, Luxembourg, Spain, The Netherlands, the U.K., and Canada. And guess what every single country had in common? According to the study, people consistently ranked infertility as the "least disabling" condition.

The lack of understanding is a worldwide problem.

But we already knew that, didn't we?

Among my small group of readers alone we cover the United States, Canada, Slovenia, Ireland, New Zealand, and Germany at least. And we all share common experiences of being constantly misunderstood.

About two-thirds of the way through the presentations, I leaned over to my school friend and said, "It's crazy to me that every country has ranked infertility as the least disabling condition when infertility completely destroyed my life as I knew it." He agreed and said, "That's exactly what I was just thinking."

The study is old, about twenty years old, but I will make the not-so-bold statement that not much has changed in terms of people's perceptions of infertility.

People in all countries & across all cultures just don't get it.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Double Standards

I promise not to make every post about school, but, real quick, here's another one. ;)

I've shared that school is intense, that it's a lot of work, that I'm exhausted, and that I have very little time to myself. Thank you for listening. I feel supported by you all and I greatly appreciate it.

Why can't I get this support in real life?

I have a friend I've been playing phone tag with. She calls and I'm busy, I call and she's busy. It's aggravating because a couple of things have happened in her life and we really want to catch up. But the current pace of modern life is just too damn busy. I'm pretty sure she's not impressed with me not being available like I used to be. Everyone is.

My complaint is that I get no understanding from anyone. Not from that friend. Not from other friends. Not from family.

The other day my mom got upset with me because I didn't come over when I said I was going to because I was tired and working on assignments. I was venting to my husband and he said, "I don't mean to add fuel to the fire but this probably wouldn't be happening if we had kids. If we had kids, we'd be doing all the kid things and no one would question our use of time."

He is so right!!!

So why do parents get all the benefits of doubt but other adults don't?

I know. Because people remember what it was like when they didn't have kids. When they were, I don't know, 22 and going to work and partying on the weekends and doing whatever they wanted. I want to scream from the mountaintops, "Not having children when you're 37 is ENTIRELY different than when you're 22!" People remember when they went to college. Sure, it was hard, but it was also fun. Again, I want to scream, "This program I'm in is not like college!!"

Last winter my family expected me to drive five hours for a day trip to celebrate the holidays. Yes, that's ten hours in the car for about 3 hours of family time. I said I was too tired. My mom said I could sleep in the car. I told her I wasn't 12 anymore and that sleeping in the car wasn't going to cut it. My dad said I can't expect my cousins to travel because it's too hard traveling with little kids. I said I wasn't coming. Instead, I basically slept for three days.

Maybe if my life looked like everyone else's I would get more credit.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Benefits of Going Back to School When You're Deeply Grieving and Traumatized

Wow, it's been over two weeks since I've posted. That's way too long! I miss the community.

Can you tell my summer semester started? It's even more insane than the regular fall and spring semesters. During the summer we cram 16 weeks worth of material into 10 weeks. And did I mention I'm taking 5 classes? Yeah... I was going to spend the weekend catching up on work but ended up spending the weekend catching up on sleep.

Anyway, that's all pretty boring to talk about...

Wait. No. I apologize, I think I'll make school the topic of this post hahaha.

*****

The Benefits of Going Back to School When You're Deeply Grieving and Traumatized:


1. It's a good distraction.

I thought nothing could take my mind off of infertility. I thought about it all day, every day. And how could I not, especially at the end when my days were spent going to the doctor's office for blood draws and ultrasounds? My life felt like it was on hold while everyone around me was moving on. Then when we decided to end treatments my mind was still 100% hoping for a miracle pregnancy. I could never give myself a break. And considering how primal the desire for offspring is, I don't blame myself one bit. I'm glad I gave it all I had. And now I'm very glad to be distracted by school. Now I have assignments and projects and deadlines. Every class is so different in terms of its content and requirements, so just keeping everything straight in my head takes a lot of energy. I went from sitting in my recliner all day, drinking multiple cups of coffee, reading TTC boards, and then surfing the internet when I ran out of new posts to read. It didn't make me feel good, but I was stuck in a rut. Now I wake up, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, drink one cup of coffee, and then I'm out the door to campus. It's so good for me. I'm so thankful.


2. I'm learning stuff!

School is exhausting and learning medical information doesn't come easily for me. The lectures are pretty bad and the reading load is insurmountable. There's not a lot of direct instruction which I miss from the good old days. I'm so old school in my teaching/learning styles. I was complaining to my mom sometime during the middle of last semester and she said to me, "But you seem to be learning a lot." Good point, mom! I am learning a lot, more than I realized. More than I thought I could. And everything I'm learning will help my future patients.

(I feel like I should add a P.S. here. P.S. Going back to school while grieving is one of the hardest things I've ever done. It's really hard to learn and to take in new information when you're grieving. But people who have been through infertility have basically just earned an honorary Ph.D. in Human Reproduction, so people like us have already learned how to learn under extreme stress. So going back to school is hard, but it's something to consider anyway.)


3. It's good practice for the real world.

If you haven't already been able to tell, I was able to isolate myself pretty successfully during my years of trying to get pregnant. Going back to school put me around people again. It put me back in the real world and the real world is real fertile. Most people my age or older have kids. Some of them go to school with me. A lot of people younger than me have kids. Some of them also go to school with me. My professors have kids. My clinical instructors have kids. Patients have kids. I'm able to test out whether or not I want to disclose to different people- colleagues, teachers, bosses- and if so, how. I've tried different ways of having conversations with people with my new self. My new self is a woman who doesn't have any children (everyone knows that) but it wasn't my choice and it was incredibly hard, traumatic, and painful for me (not many people know that). Going back to school, I have experienced meeting new people, making new friends, networking, and working in professional settings. And it has been good practice. I was a little rusty. Haha.

*****

So I'm sure there's more I could elaborate on with this topic. Just wanted to jot a few ideas down.

If anyone is thinking about going back to school but you're thinking it'll take too long or it's too much work, remember you just do it all one step at a time. I remember getting the idea to go back to school a year before trying IVF, but I didn't want to take the prerequisites. I thought taking Anatomy & Physiology I and II would be too hard and maybe even too boring. So I didn't do it. And you know what, another year passed. The next year came around, none of my fertility treatments resulted in pregnancy, and I could've already had the A & P courses out of the way if I'd taken them when I first had the idea. My point being- time is gonna pass anyway. School sucks, but, if there's a job or a career that you think you will enjoy and be good at, it's worth it. School is temporary. It ends. The job/career can be forever.

*****

On that note, I have to go write a paper... ๐Ÿ˜ฌ



Monday, June 5, 2017

Work In Progress

I never thought I'd get to a point where I'd be okay. I didn't think it was possible. I would envision a future where I wasn't the mother I always thought, planned, and dreamed I'd be and I could not picture myself ever being happy without children.

I'm glad I was wrong.

I've actually had lots of moments of happiness over the last year or two. :)

*****

It's crazy how fast things can change.

A year ago I was still trying and hoping for a miracle baby. I was playing Murphy's Law; I figured going back to school would guarantee I'd get pregnant.

Well, I didn't. And I needed to stop falling apart every month when it didn't happen. It was killing me. So we began using contraception again. Weird. And relieving.

And I'm okay.

I don't go to baby showers. I can't be a part of other people's pregnancies. And I'm not going to start a friendship with someone my age with toddlers.

But I moved out of the house I bought for my children. I sold that house. I shredded, recycled, trashed, and gave away everything (except a few onesies and the pictures of my embryos) that had anything to do with trying to conceive, infertility, fertility treatments, and having and raising children. And I had a houseful. So many things. So much stuff. So much paperwork.

Something I haven't written about, but when our last IVF didn't result in pregnancy, I thought long and hard about what to do next. I was deciding between pursuing adoption and going back to school. I felt like I was running short on time with regard to everything. I obviously chose to go back to school before pursuing adoption. I did not know if it was the right decision overall, but I knew it was the right decision then and for the moment. I needed to grieve. There was a hole in my heart that no child could fill, and I needed to heal from that first. It was an incredibly difficult decision because adoption is a long process and I'm not getting any younger, but I knew I did not have the energy for it at that time.

So I moved and went back to school. Which I keep writing about over and over. But it was so major. And it's been three steps forward, two steps back.

That metaphor comparing grief to an ocean or whatever is correct though. At first, the waves are nonstop and you don't know if you're ever going to breathe again. Then slowly, so slowly you don't even perceive it in real time, but very slowly, the waves slow down. They keep coming. But there's a little bit of space in between them. And the space in between the waves continues to grow.

And then I learned the adoption agency I had chosen years ago filed for bankruptcy.

Wait.

What.

Excuse me?

After lots and lots of research over the years, I had chosen an agency. And it no longer exists. First and foremost, my heart aches for the families that were in the middle of the process with this agency when they filed for bankruptcy out of the blue. Secondly, there went my plan for adoption. I felt really thrown and my counselor validated these really strong emotions that I didn't even realize I was feeling. I knew I was done with fertility treatments and now I was done with adoption before it even started. With that agency anyway. But, really, overall... I'm not going to research any more agencies. I know how hard it was to find that one I liked. And look how they turned out.

I am not going to parent. I've known for all of 2017. And I've been processing a lot.

And I'm okay. I'm sad. I'm happy. I'm thankful. I'm irritated. And I am okay. Most days.

I still talk about it a lot, at least a comment every day probably. I'm really thankful that my husband continues to listen. Healing from infertility is really hard for me. But I'm doing it. It's not a passive activity. Or maybe if it is, it takes longer. I don't know. I just needed to do what I could about a situation where I could do absolutely nothing.

Lifelong dream of being a mother denied?
Ok, what's next?

*****

It's been so hard. And I'm afraid I'm just rambling.

I think I wanted this post to be about one thing and it ended up being about another. :)

*****

I'm a work in progress.
I'm doing okay.
And I'm so glad I was wrong and that life can get good again.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Sick of the Script

I've had a bit of writer's block for the last month or so. I think it's from exhaustion. I can barely believe how tired I got from that spring semester.

But writer's block is similar to how I'm feeling conversationally with people. I don't know what to say these days. I'm at a loss for words. I don't know how to talk about my life without giving people the impression that I'm interested in their opinions.

Basically I'm sick of the script.

You know what I'm talking about, where the conversation predictably goes from kids to treatments to adoption to foster care. If people actually knew what they were talking about, that'd be one thing. But... It always seems to be the fertile people wanting to engage me in these topics.


Them: Do you have kids?
Me: No.
Them: Oh, why not?
Me: ...

or

Them: Which one is yours?
Me: Oh, I don't have any kids.
Them: Well, you better get on it. You're not getting any younger.
Me: ...

or

Them: So you don't have children?
Me: No.
Them: Wow, what do you do with all of your free time?
Me: ...

or

Them: No kids, huh? Are you gonna try IVF?
Me: ...

Them: Have you thought about adoption?
Me: ...

Them: Well, there are a TON of kids in foster care...


Or any other variation of conversation that inevitably ensues when I'm talking to a parent and they learn I don't have any kids.

My mother is always telling me I need to "educate her" because she doesn't know what it's like and she doesn't know how and when she's being insensitive. To that I told her, "It's exhausting being in the marginalized population and always having the expectation that I will be educating others." Not only that, but I don't actually want to talk about my trauma all the time. Go figure. What may be a simple conversation for others may be an extreme act of labor on my part, one that will stay with me for several days.

So I get stuck. I don't want to talk about my infertility conversationally, but, at the same time, I don't want my reality to be completely ignored. I just wish there was a place for my reality in this world.

No, I don't have kids. No, I can't have kids. No, it's none of your business.
Yes, I know about fertility treatments. No, I'm not going to discuss what I've done or not done.
Yes, I know about adoption. Yes, I know about foster care.
No, I am not going to go into the detailed, time-consuming conversations my husband and I have had where we've discussed everything and came to our conclusions.
I mean, seriously, wtf people??

Do people really think this is an appropriate/comfortable/light conversation topic?

I'm pretty good at coming up with snarky comebacks, but I want to figure out what to say to redirect the conversation politely. For those situations where it's best if I'm not rude (like, in a future work setting). I'm trying to think of things to say ahead of time so I don't get caught off guard in the moment. The approach I'm currently in favor of is to answer a question with a question. Just do anything to make them talk, instead of me.

Some of my ideas:
Why do you ask?
What was your experience (with treatments/adoption/fostering) like?
Are you familiar with the process?

Or maybe I can stick with noncommittal murmurings:
Oh...
Hmmm...
You don't say.
Isn't that interesting.

Anyway, just thinking out loud. Writer's block. Feeling stuck in conversations. Words just haven't come easily for me over the last month or so... Just trying to be prepared for the future.
Please feel free to share any ideas you may have! :)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Helping/Hindering Our Healing

Happy Monday! ๐Ÿ’œ


Here's a writing prompt from Mali:

Make a list of your personality traits 
that can both help and hinder you 
in the process of healing after infertility. 


She shared her preliminary list here. 
(Note: That's the first time I inserted a link on my blog! ๐Ÿ†  )

I love making lists so I'd like to try. :) Here are my initial ideas.


First, using some of Mali's ideas:

  • Like her, I don't like the feeling that I'm missing out.  HINDERS
  • But also, I never thought "things happen for a reason."  HELPS
  • Also like her, I am pragmatic. (I am extremely sensitive and I have a lot of feelings, but I am also very, very practical.)  HELPS

And a few ideas of my own:

  • I'm good at quitting things hahaha (in the past- things like jobs, school programs, and boyfriends that weren't working out).  HELPS
  • I really like each stage of life and was looking forward to raising children through all of them. I always wanted to be a mother and had planned for it my whole life.  HINDERS
  • I like to be social but feel left out of my peer group because I'm not a mom.  HINDERS
  • Like I previously said, I am extremely sensitive so I got my feelings hurt a lot for the first couple of years.  HINDERS
  • I'm okay with asking for help and I've been lucky to work with two different counselors over the last several years.  HELPS
  • I like having something to work toward and look forward to so my husband and I came up with a new plan together for our future.  HELPS


What are some things that has helped or hindered your healing after infertility?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below, in the comments on Mali's post, or link to your own post on the topic. :)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Facing My Stuff

I went to my storage unit yesterday. I envisioned spending several hours there, going through things, and loading up a lot of stuff to give away. I lasted about an hour. ๐Ÿ˜„

But I made lists! And I have an action plan for next time.

When we moved from our house to this rental property fifteen months ago, we cut our square footage in half. I gave away a lot of things but still had a lot of stuff I wanted to keep so we got a small storage unit. I could barely deal with everything on my plate back then (deep in grief, very sad about losing my children, very sad about losing life as I knew it). I just packed up all my baby stuff. I knew I would deal with it later.

Last summer I cleaned out all of my paperwork and stuff from the fertility doctor. There was a lot of documentation! And you know what I ended up keeping? The pictures of my embryos. Everything else was shredded/recycled. I realized I didn't need any of it. But I only concluded this after going through every single piece of paper. It was an emotional day.

Last fall I went to the storage unit and was able to get rid of more stuff. The more time I spent away from it, the easier it became to deal with and get rid of. Most notably, I gave my rocking horse that my grandpa made me to my cousin for her baby.

Sigh...

Honestly, I was saving so much stuff for my kids. Old stuff of mine that I wanted to show them. Old toys and books. (They just don't make stuff like they used to, hahaha, but seriously...)

A couple of months ago I texted an old friend from high school. I know he and his wife wanted kids but haven't had any yet. I asked him, "Are you saving a bunch of stuff for your kids? What do I do with all this stuff I saved for my kids??" He wrote back saying, yes, he had a bunch of Star Wars stuff that he was saving and he had recently started to wonder what he was going to do with it all. It seems this is a common thing among people who thought they were going to parent.

And of course our kids probably wouldn't have been interested in our old stuff. I know that. But still. I miss that I won't get to share it with them.

Plus, we had bought them a house. We bought a four-bedroom house for our kids. And we were filling it up. Not cluttered, we are kind of minimalists. But I still like to decorate a little. Some framed art and large vases. So now I have half a house in storage: tons of kids' stuff, lots of books (I miss them! my dream home has floor to ceiling bookshelves), and decorative items.

And each time I go, it gets easier.

So I went yesterday. I went through some stuff and created a give away box full of books and clothes in good condition but that don't fit. (There's another topic for another day. I don't like discussing weight. It's such a boring topic. And our weight fluctuates so much anyway. But, dang, I just don't know if I'm ever going to be able to wear all my clothes from before my fertility treatments. My body is just a different size/shape now...)

There's so much to unpack here. I'll try to stay focused on my original point.

I brought home my "Baby Stuff" box and I cleaned it out last night.

It wasn't as hard as I thought it'd be. The good part was that unpacking the box didn't make me sad. It would've been fine if I had felt sad, but I'm glad that I didn't. I'm glad that some things that used to hurt or sting don't hurt or sting as much anymore.

I went through the box and decided what to do with everything. I'm keeping all of my specialty onesies. Why? I don't know. But they don't take up much space and I still want them. But I'm giving away a nightlight my sister gave me, a cute burp rag my mom gave me, and a book that I bought to read while I was pregnant. And that was that.

Eventually I'll clean out all the other stuff in storage too. I'll either give stuff away or move it with me after I graduate. It doesn't matter. ๐Ÿ”ฎ  I don't have to decide everything right now. ๐Ÿ’œ

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Out Of It

I finished my semester, I'm on vacation, and I am Out. Of. It.

So tired, so exhausted, so thankful, so content, but so completely done. Happy to be on vacation.

When I first mentioned this trip idea several months ago to my husband, all I thought was I'll be done with school, it's my only break in the program, and we need to take a trip together if possible! Since MD (my abbreviation for today's "holiday") isn't ever on my mind, I didn't even realize I'd be out of town for this day.

Last year for MD, I remember that I didn't even leave the house. It was a conscious decision. I didn't feel terrible but I didn't feel comfortable, so I just enjoyed a day at home, reading on the couch and eating pizza. It was fine.

This year is awesome.

Vacation is great and I really am cultivating a life that will work for me.

It's not a complete solution. I still miss my kids. I thought coming on this vacation might make me glad I didn't have kids. They are expensive and tiring and a lot of work, haven't you heard? I am "so lucky" that I "get to travel," right? Well, it's both. It's an amazing trip, but it's not the salve that fertile people think it is.

I am having fun though. And I completely forgot today was MD. And honestly, that was nice.

I'm pretty out of it and it's a nice break. ๐Ÿ’ซ



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

My Life is So Different

I finished final exams. I can't believe I just did another semester.

My life is so different.

1.) from what I thought I'd be doing
2.) from what others my age are doing

Going back to school wasn't even on my radar screen. I've already had a couple of different jobs/careers. I never thought I'd be back in graduate school learning about another one.

I did finally say to my husband last night though that I think it's harder to go back to school when you're older. I've really been fighting that thought because I don't want it to be true. And there are a lot of aspects that are so much easier. When you're older you (hopefully) have less dumb drama in your life. You can manage time and demands and deadlines better. When you've been through any trauma like infertility, that can help keep the school stress in perspective. And often, you appreciate the opportunity to go back to school.

But it's exhausting.

I don't want to discourage anyone from going back to school. If you really want to learn the material and/or you really want to change careers, it is very, VERY much worth it. I have fallen in love with my new profession and I can't wait to start working. I can see myself doing this for the rest of my life, happily and contentedly.

But I am so tired.

I don't remember being this tired in any of my other programs. Maybe it is this program. Maybe it is my age. Maybe, probably, it is a combination of those two things plus the fact that I started school while still processing the trauma of infertility.

But I'm glad I didn't wait. If I waited to move or sell my house or start school when I actually felt ready, I might still be in that place. It took doing all of those things to help me move forward.

So I don't want to discourage anyone from going back to school. Or moving and selling your house. Or doing anything else that seems the tiniest bit desirable but absolutely insurmountable. It is A LOT of work. But, for me, it's better than sitting in the house I bought for my children wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

But it's different. It's not what I thought I would be doing. It's not what any of my family or friends are doing. It's not what the majority of my peers are doing.

That's why I don't expect anyone to understand my life. My life is so different in so many ways. I can't be expected to explain myself to everyone who is wondering why I'm doing this but not doing that or why I'm going to this but not traveling for that or whatever it is people happen to be curious about in the moment. I know I make my decisions practically, compassionately, and with integrity. It's okay if others don't understand.





Saturday, April 29, 2017

Touching Base

Touching base... Some rambling thoughts...

I've had several different ideas swirling around in my mind all week.

I've also been doing what I need to do, just fighting through exhaustion. No matter what we're all doing, we can all relate to that. I'm not doing the whole "take pride in being busy" idea, but, yeah, I'm happy to have things going on. After so many years of... waiting, hoping, planning, and waiting... I don't mind being busy.

Anyway.
I'm rambling.

Usually, when it comes to this blog, I just think something and type a few things out. Might as well, before I judge myself, right? I mean, I'm not the only one to have the thoughts I have. So might as well put them out there so other people can be like, oh good I'm not the only one. :)

I read blogs for yearsss and never commented. I could totally relate, but I didn't grow up with the internet and wasn't totally comfortable commenting. And here I am with a 6+ month old blog...

But, like I said, I'm not the only one.
This is becoming common.

Not common to where I'll meet others like me, just living my life. I'm still in the minority.
But common to where I can say something anonymously on the internet and another woman will think, yes, me too.

It's weird. I don't want anyone else to know my pain. But, if/since there are, I want to know them. And do fun stuff together. Wouldn't that be fun? Like, a global small group party. :)

So, as I have some free moments over the next month, which will be more likely compared to the last several weeks, I'll just ramble some more about the aforementioned ideas. :-D Sound good? I'll be around.

Hope all is well with you!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Angry

I've been so angry for the last couple of weeks.
I don't really like anger. It doesn't feel good, and it's kind of exhausting.

But school is full of so much busy work! I strongly believe you are never too old to go back to school, but I also often think, "I'm too old for this." Some of the assignments and projects have no professional value, yet they are tedious and a complete waste of my time.

So that's part of it.

But when I'm feeling angry for a sustained period of time, I try to think about what it's really about.

Five years ago this month my husband and I stopped using contraception. Oh... That...
The body never seems to forget.

I thought I'd get pregnant. I thought I'd have a baby. I thought I would be raising a child by now.

So I'm just doing the best I can. Trying to get my work done, trying to take care of myself. Definitely making sure I eat and get plenty of rest. I know life is hard, whether you're working and/or going to school and/or raising children. I know I'm lucky I get to study for a new career. I know it is a great opportunity. But sometimes I get sick of looking on the bright side. And, like I said, I've been feeling angry lately.

I worked all weekend long and I wasn't studying anything terribly interesting, but it all had to get done anyway. So tonight I decided to treat myself to an exceptionally good dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. Everyone was busy, including my husband, so I went by myself. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant and savored the food. I even purposely over-ordered so I would have leftovers for tomorrow, because tomorrow is going to be an extremely busy day without a lunch break. (Yay classes, meetings, and group projects...)

And at the end of my delicious meal, which I thoroughly enjoyed, the waitress said, "You've been the happiest person I've waited on all night. You just exude such a happy energy."

Wow. I didn't see that coming. I guess I'm doing something right.

Now I'm feeling thankful and I'm ready for the week.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Stupid IVF

I wish everyone who wanted to get pregnant and have a baby could get pregnant and have a baby.

Just two weeks ago I learned about a friend who was pregnant from IVF. I was sad for myself but happy for her.

Today I found out a different friend was not pregnant from IVF. I was sad for myself and sad for her. She has many more embryos left in storage, so she is staying on the fertility treatment roller coaster for now. I hope it works out for her. I hope it doesn't all come at too high of a cost. And anyone who has tried fertility treatments knows the cost isn't just financial.

I hate IVF. I'm glad it works for some people, but I wish it worked for everyone. I wish we were told that it actually doesn't work over 70% of the time. This is such a rarely known fact.

I'm glad I made the decision to move on. The waiting and hoping and the devastation and trauma of trying to conceive was too much for me. I'm sad that I'm not a mom and not raising a child, but I'm glad I am creating a new life for myself.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Self-Care Above All Else

I missed my first class in this program. I felt really proud about my perfect attendance so far because I've never had perfect attendance in anything in my life. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted haha. Self-care above all else.

One of my classes is discussion-based. Each week everyone reads the same research article and then one person leads the small group in a discussion. Last week I sat down to prepare for that week's article. It was about motherhood. Oh shit... I started reading. Within the first paragraph the article started talking about how motherhood brings meaning to women's lives. Fresh off a recent pregnancy announcement where a good friend's IVF had worked, I immediately started crying.

Oh hell no.

There is no way I'm going to this class.

I can't even get through the article.

I tried again and immediately thought, Why am I doing this to myself? Who freaking cares??

So I stopped reading. I cannot even tell you the relevance of this article to the class or my profession. It seemed pretty out of left field to me. Maybe there was an explanation further in the article. I will never know. I threw away the article and emailed my professor.

I told her I would not be attending class because the article was too upsetting for me, but I was more than willing to do a make-up assignment or read an additional article if needed.

She wrote back. (She never writes back. Add that to my list of complaints about this program.)

She said something along the lines of: I am disappointed you chose to skip class for this reason. You will not have any choice in the future about which patients you work with... Something about being unprofessional... Blah blah blah...

Um... What?

That's not even relevant.

In the future I will not be having hour-long discussions with patients about how motherhood gives women's lives meaning.

Plus, I would not have been able to make it through that discussion without crying. Hard. Listening to my classmates inevitably talk about how their children gave their lives meaning and how they are working hard for them to give them a better life. It was a no-win situation for me. Unprofessional if I missed class, unprofessional if I cried throughout the whole thing.

I wrote her back.

I said something along the lines of: Thank you for your feedback. Each month I make great strides in my grief and recovery from losing my children and I feel confident that I will be able to handle whatever situation comes my way in the clinical setting in the future.

She said nothing.
How rude.

Anyway, I don't really care all that much. I really don't. I'm not impressed with my professor's first response and I'm definitely not impressed with her lack of response after sharing with her that I lost my children. But I don't feel even 1% bad for missing that class. There was no way in hell I was going.

I don't expect anyone else to understand my life. But I also don't have to do things just to make other people happy or comfortable.

I'm the only one that lives my life and I put self-care above all else.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Honoring My Sadness

It has happened again.
Another friend is pregnant.
Complete with a cute photograph shared on social media and accompanied by 500+ "Likes."

Again, I am happy for her. I really, truly am. This woman is a special person who makes everyone she meets feel good. She has struggled to get pregnant for years and has had many surgeries to make her body hospitable to pregnancy.

But.
But...

I lost it.

I hadn't cried over an announcement in a seemingly long time. I have begun to realize that other people's lives are separate from mine, that I've got my own thing going on and I am moving on. But this announcement still made me sad for myself.

Why does IVF work for other people but it didn't work for me???

I am proud of myself. I didn't read the comments. I knew they would hurt me.
Lots of:
-No one deserves it more than you
-God has blessed you with life's most precious gift
-Welcome to motherhood, it's the greatest thing ever
and more comments of that nature, I'm sure.

I am happy for her, but it's another lost friendship for me. For us. Her husband was one of my husband's closest friends. Our lives are going in different directions now. We won't see them for at least six months, because I don't like to hang out with pregnant women. And my husband said he doubts we will ever hang out with them again. They have a ton of friends and they all have children. Our lives don't match anymore.

For the first time, my husband got what I call a "fishing" text, though he didn't realize it at the time. I have received lots of these over the years. The kind of text where the person feels you out, sees what you're up to, and how you are doing, especially with regard to the whole baby situation. We had already shared with them that we were done trying and we thought maybe they were coming to the end too. Turns out she was pregnant and they wanted to see where we were with the whole topic... He didn't say anything, but, in retrospect, I think my husband felt a little weird about the text. Or maybe I'm projecting. I always feel weird, a little pitied, after receiving those fishing-type texts.

So, anyway, I cried. A lot. At first it was just a little. A few tears silently streamed down my face. But that wasn't enough. I could feel it deep down throughout my whole body, so I just gave in and had a really good cry about it.

I felt dumb for crying. (Geez, will the self-judgment ever end??) I thought, I've come so far in my healing. Why am I upset? This woman is awesome and her pregnancy has nothing to do with me. Why, after all these years, am I crying about her announcement?

I texted my best friend. I said, "I hope one day other people's pregnancy announcements don't affect me. I'm happy for this most recent couple but I get jealous that IVF worked for them but not for me." And my best friend, my wise, loving, inspiring, and beautiful best friend, wrote back: "I think that's fair!" I told her I had been crying and she said: "Okay, I'm being serious- why wouldn't you? What 'honor' is there in not being sad?"

Wow. I had never thought about it like that before. Honoring my sadness. She is so right. Of course, I don't have to be happy all the time. I already knew that. But honoring my sadness? Yes! That is so valid and necessary. I love her. I loved her comments to me. I continued to cry, but this time I didn't judge myself. I let the tears flow. I felt sad for my children that didn't get to be here and that I didn't get to raise. And I honored that sadness by expressing it instead of ignoring it or judging it.

Grieving is not a linear process. And losing my children to infertility is a lifelong loss. So I will continue to feel sadness at different points throughout my life. And I will honor my sadness when it surfaces.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Typical Question with an Atypical Ending

Last week I had my first clinical rotation. I cannot even begin to describe how awesome it was!! As much as I hate school, I know I am on the right path with my new career. I can barely wait to graduate and get out into the work force.

Oh the work force... I am thankful every day for how far I've come in my recovery from infertility. After the first day of my clinical rotation I came home and told my husband, "I would NOT have been able to do this a year ago."

Dang, people talk about their kids all the time!!!

I was mentally prepared for being around a bunch of women all day and that there would be a lot of conversation centered around their children, but even with my foresight, I was still surprised.

I did fine though. I didn't get sad or depressed. I listened a little and tuned out a little. One woman had just returned from maternity leave. I asked her baby's name, because I've always had an interest in what people name their children. But I was conveniently out of the room when newborn photos were being passed around. (I just stepped outside the room while it was happening and nobody even noticed. Never underestimate the importance of self care! I know newborn pics are still a tough thing for me so I just discreetly stepped out of the room and pretended to be studying my notes in the hallway.)

It wasn't until my second to last day that someone even asked me if I had children. I was asked by an 80 year old woman, a former volunteer who had stopped by to say hello. At first, I thought we were headed toward a train wreck. Then the conversation ended in a surprising way.


Her: Do you have children?

Me: No. (Expressed with no sadness or any other emotion. Simply stated with no further explanation.)

Her: You missed all the good parts!

(pause)

Her: And you missed all the bad parts... Nothing is perfect.


So there you have it, folks! "Nothing is perfect."


Be careful out there in that fertile world. Always take care of yourself.
And remember that you are not alone.

You have a sisterhood that understands you and believes in you as you work toward recovery and creating a new life for yourself that you want to live. ๐Ÿ’œ

Thursday, March 23, 2017

My Survivor Anniversary


Two years ago today my life changed forever.

Two years ago today my final IVF did not result in pregnancy.

Two years ago today I knew it was over.

Two years ago today I lost my children.


Since then I have completely changed my life.
Not, my life has completely changed. That doesn't give me enough credit. Because I had to do it.

I had to do all the work.
I had to climb out of the deep, dark pit I was in.

I had to move out of my children's house, fix it up, put it on the market, and sell it.
I had to find a place to move to, pack up all my stuff, and coordinate the movers.
I had to box up all the stuff in the nursery and put it in storage because I couldn't deal with it yet.

I had to figure out what I was going to do with my life. I decided to change careers.
I had to navigate the school application process, take all the prerequisite courses, arrange my
              observation hours, track down letters of recommendation, write an essay, take the GRE.
I had to go back to school: register for classes, buy books, go to class, do homework, study for
              tests, meet for group projects, write papers.

I had to let go of relationships that weren't working anymore.
I had to let go of friendships that weren't there anymore.
I had to let go of an old me that didn't exist anymore.

I had to grieve.

It has not been easy.
It has not been fun.
But I did it anyway.

Two years ago I was still living in the house I bought for my children without any direction.

One year ago I was living in a cool little rental property with my former house on the market.

Today I am actively recreating my life with every waking day.
Today I am a survivor.
Today I am free.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My CFNBC Reflections on Spring Break

I had a great Spring Break. Nothing was planned, but I ended up meeting with friends for lunch every day. From a childfree not by choice (CFNBC) perspective, I found things to be particularly interesting.


  • My first lunch was with my friend, a former co-worker, who is 12 years older than me. Her two kids are grown (ages 19 and 21) but will still be financially dependent for several more years. I have known her kids since they were 5 and 7. Wow, time flies. I enjoyed getting caught up on her life and catching her up on mine. She knows what all I've been through over the past several years. She said I looked happier and healthier than I've seemed in years. She was so happy for me. She is parenting young adults in her early 50s. I asked her if she would want to be parenting teenagers in her late 50s and, without hesitation, she said "No!" Me neither. If others want to do that, that's totally fine. But my husband and I are moving on. Our window for parenting has passed.

  • My next lunch was with two new friends from school, 12 and 14 years younger than me. Not surprisingly, children never came up once in all of our conversations.

  • The next day I went to dinner with my good friend from school (also 12 years younger than me), his wife, and their 1-year old baby. I like their kid, and I really enjoy how they parent in a reasonable, flexible, yet firm and understanding way. And, full disclosure, I am kind of picky about parenting styles. It was a great meal with lots of laughs, and the kid even tolerated the restaurant experience pretty well. Interestingly though, I felt no jealousy, no longing. I've never particularly liked going out to eat with small children, so maybe that was it. Or maybe I have better boundaries between other people's children and myself than I have in the past. Whatever it was, I was glad I could enjoy dinner with my friends without any residual negative feelings.

  • The next day I went to lunch with my parents. Sigh... I love them. But I have to get to a place of acceptance that they will never understand my infertility. They know I want to move and they know my relocation plans are a part of the rebuilding of my life, but they are not exactly supportive. I've done well in school and have made progress in the area of moving (researching, networking, etc.), but my mom still cried when I told her the progress I've made. I love them so much but it's complicated. I wish they could be happy for me.

  • My final Spring Break meal was a totally spontaneous lunch with a really awesome friend I hadn't seen since Thanksgiving. She is my age and does not have children. We ended up spending seven hours together, talking and hanging out. I can't think of many people that I would even want to spend seven hours with these days hahaha, but the time flew! It was energizing and so much fun. I told her that my mom told me the day before that I could be friends with people my age with kids and I told her (my mom) that I couldn't. My mom was confused but my friend immediately got it. She said, "Of course we can be friends with people with kids," but then she followed it up with, "But not really." Hahaha. She said she liked her friends with kids but she often didn't call them because she knew hanging out with them meant also hanging out with their kids, which, as much as she liked them, that sometimes wasn't what she felt like doing. She went on to say that friends with kids had schedules that we didn't. They had birthday parties and school functions and baseball games and dance practices. It was just so nice to be validated and immediately understood.

So, no closing thoughts really... It was just a great Spring Break, and I couldn't have planned it any better. I'm thankful I got to see so many friends. This month alone has been such a contrast to the last five years of my life. As I continue to say, I do not take any of it for granted for a second.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Weird Ending to a Friendship

I'm on Spring Break, which is something I never thought I would experience as a student again. But, here I am in my late 30s with a week off from life. Of course, life never really stops, so I'm trying to use my time wisely. Go to the doctor, take the car in, meet a friend for lunch... I'm thankful for this time, but I am also pretty bored. I'm in a better head space than I was over winter break and last summer and the years preceding going back to school. But honestly, I still need to stay busy. Having a lot of free time to myself, I am still letting my mind wander a little too much... Which brings me to today's post.

I apologize if I've written about this before. I think sometimes I repeat myself here on this blog (and definitely in real life- just ask my husband hahaha), but I'm what I call a "verbal processor" so sometimes it takes me a couple of times of rehashing something before I'm able to glean some helpful points and then do my best to let it go. (Side note: I think that's the first time in my life that I've ever used the word "glean.")

So, here we go!

I had this awesome friend. (Uh oh, past tense. So you can see where this is headed...)

She was so, so awesome. She always told me, even years before I ever started trying to conceive, that I was going to be the best mom. She was a mom herself, loved the role and her daughter so much. We daydreamed about us both being parents and raising our kids together. In fact, we were hoping she would get pregnant with her second the same time I got pregnant with my first. But you know how life goes... Instead, she got divorced and I learned I was infertile.

Still, we supported each other. We made time for each other. We really had a lot of fun just sitting and talking in each other's backyards. It's the simple things that really are the greatest.

After I had been trying for a couple of years she gently encouraged me to see a doctor. Then when I decided to try fertility treatments, she was my biggest cheerleader. It was such a difficult time for me. I was so raw and wounded and profoundly sad. I didn't tell anyone about my treatments because I didn't have the strength to deal with people's well-intentioned, yet incredibly insensitive and often hurtful, comments. But I told her. I trusted her. And she was the awesome friend I needed at that time. I will always be thankful for that.

Well, as we all know, the fertility treatments did not result in pregnancy for me. I don't like to say they failed, because I got to go through all the steps. I got to try the treatments, my follicles grew, we gathered a couple of eggs, they fertilized, and we were able to return them inside of me. But I've never been pregnant.

It's weird. I knew a lot of people couldn't support someone who is infertile. Either they don't know how or my reality made them too uncomfortable or they were busy with their own lives, I don't know. But support for someone going through infertility is extremely rare. This friend I'm telling you about was a gem.

But what I didn't know was that some people can't support you once you somewhat realize you can't have children. And this friend was like that. She could rally for me all day long as I tried and tried treatments and tried acupuncture and diet changes and vitamins and supplements, but it was beyond her capacity to support me as a woman who was not going to be a mother.

She and I tried. After all of my unsuccessful fertility treatments, my husband and I (well, really, me, my husband was getting over the whole thing by this point, but he kept going for my sake) kept trying the good old fashioned way for another year and a half. I thought maybe he and I would be one of those couples that got pregnant years later after everything else didn't work. My friend remained hopeful and optimistic. But I never got pregnant.

That's when things got weird. I wasn't pregnant and there was nothing I could do about it. I was grieving and it was extremely difficult for me. I was reading blogs written by women who were living life after infertility and I started thinking about what my life would be like if I never became a mother.

I guess that's where her support ended. It really took me by surprise. Here was the one friend who I felt had stood by me through everything and now this friendship was fading too. And then I got my feelings hurt. We were out having a couple of beers on a gorgeous day when she was sharing with me how upset she was that she only had one child. I never thought about it before, but all of her friends had two or more kids. I said something along the lines of, "Huh, you *are* the only person you know with an only child." And she replied, "Yes, it's hard. But then I think of you and remember it could always be worse."

Ouch.

Damn.

Wow.

Uh... I didn't even know what to say to that. I don't remember what I said to that. But it stung. Bad.

My life is so much worse? Well, dang, why don't I just give up now??

In that same afternoon she was encouraging me to pursue adoption. But then she followed it by saying she could never love an adopted child as much as she loved her "own" daughter, that it was important for her to carry the child to develop that maternal bond.

Again...  Uh... Okay...

Like I said, it got weird. I don't even know.

I continued the friendship for a little while longer, even though part of me deep down knew it wasn't working anymore. Our visits got less and less frequent. I noticed on social media that she only hung out with other moms. And once I stoppped reaching out every month or so, I just never heard from her.

So. Weird.

I will always be grateful for her support during the darkest time in my life. I wish we were still friends like we used to be. But, life has weird ways of changing. I am not a mother, I am not pursuing motherhood, and my former friend and I have grown apart.

I wish this was the only friendship that has faded away during my struggle with infertility, but, unfortunately, there are many. But this is the only friendship that faded away in this manner.

I don't even know how to end this post. I have no closing words, other than that situation took me by surprise and the whole thing was very weird. I wish her well.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Other People's Pregnancies

I'm skipping another party today.

This one is for a gender reveal party.

I can't stand the idea of a gender reveal party.

First of all, to be more accurate, they should be called sex reveal parties. Gender is a social construct. Sex refers to anatomy. Second of all, it kills me that people start gender socialization before the baby is even born.

At least with this friend I could joke about it. When she told me she was pregnant, she told me in the funniest and most thoughtful way. She knows about my infertility and lifelong desire to have children, and I will always be grateful for how she shared her news of pregnancy with me. In fact, I noticed that she told me before she announced on social media. A little consideration goes a long way.

When she invited me to her gender reveal party, I told her it should be called a sex reveal party. She agreed but said she didn't feel comfortable inviting her friends and family to her baby's "genital reveal party" so she was just gonna stick with the regular "gender reveal party" title. Hahaha. She has a great sense of humor.

Because of all of this (how she told me, her awareness of gender/sex, and the fact that she's just so cool), I thought about going to this party. I was added to the event invite on social media and I RSVP'd with a Maybe.

I couldn't do it.

Because of the nature of the event invite being on social media, I could see every update to the event and everyone's comments about it. Everyone is SO excited. As they should be. This is a super cool couple and they have a ton of friends. But, me personally, I was having a hard time with all of their comments and mommy advice and everything. And my friend is very excited as well. As she should be. But when she posted her fourth ultrasound picture, I knew I couldn't do it. I changed my RSVP from Maybe to Can't Make It and quickly left the event invite.

It's going to be a fun party. There will be a lot of interesting people there. And they are going to have a nacho bar. But my absence will in no way diminish my friend's happiness. And I have to do what's best for me.

I can't be a part of other people's pregnancies. And that's okay.

My life is going in a different direction.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Getting Closer to Resolution

Well, I've got a midterm later today that I haven't yet studied for because I've been so busy with class and assignments. And then another midterm tomorrow. I feel short on time... So of course I'm going to log in and jot down a quick post. :)

I feel like I am getting closer to resolution. I know I will still have my ups and downs. I know I am still grieving. But I also know that I like my life now. I like what I'm doing and I like who is in it. I am excited when I think about the future. I don't take any of this for granted for even a second. I know how hard I've worked to get to this point.

The counselor at school asked me a good question. She asked, "What has been most helpful for you in your grieving process?" And I immediately listed off three things. I will share them with you now, in case they can help anyone else.


1. Selling my children's home

     It was time to go. That house, that neighborhood, that location- it was all meant for a different life. A life I wasn't having. It was way too big for the two of us. And that neighborhood made no sense for us if we weren't going to be having children. It was a gorgeous house, truly beautiful. But I could no longer walk by the nursery/storage room. I could no longer drive by the neighborhood park. I could no longer live there. Period. And I'm thankful that a large family full of children bought it, and I like to think that they are very happy there.


2. Deciding to celebrate the holidays differently

     This was a hard one for me. I love my family, the holidays, and seeing my family over the holidays. But it started to be very painful for me. I was living a nontraditional life, still grieving the loss of the traditional life I had planned, and it was jarring to jump into everyone's family lives and celebrate the holidays traditionally. I tried for several years, but this past year I knew I needed to try something different for my own mental health. My husband and I went to a special restaurant for Thanksgiving with my mother-in-law. And it was perfect! And we stayed home for Christmas instead of making a long drive for a quick overnight trip to see extended family. I missed my cousins, but I did not miss feeling like an outsider in my own family. At that point it was still too hard for me to be the only woman in the room without children. Maybe things will be different in the future; maybe they will not be. I will remain open and trust that I will know what's best for me each year.


3. Making new plans with my husband

     This is what helped me the most: coming up with new dreams with my husband. Since our first choice life didn't work out, we felt like we could choose almost anything for our second choice life. And our second choice is even starting to feel less and less like a consolation prize. We are really excited! About my new career. About where we want to move to. About how we envision the rest of our lives together. I could not have done this alone. Well, I could have. But it was more fun to rebuild my life with my partner. It helped me feel not so alone after the very alienating experience of infertility.


It has a taken me a long time to get to this point, and I don't think grieving and mourning are processes that can be rushed. It has been a ton of hard work, both physically and emotionally. But it has all been so, so worth it.

I am so thankful for my life, my loved ones, and my new dreams.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Success? What is this foreign concept?

Infertility almost broke me. It wore me down and eroded away my self-esteem, my self-confidence, and my belief that anything was ever going to work out again.

I couldn't get pregnant. I couldn't "get over it." My friendships were disappearing. My house was falling apart. I was sleeping too much and eating too little. I was incapable of making the smallest decision. I was unable to enjoy what I did have in life. And I absolutely could not envision any kind of future for myself.

I've written everything in this paragraph before, but when my fifth fertility treatment did not result in pregnancy (3 IUIs & 2 IVFs), I knew I was done. It was time to figure out how to climb out of my deep, dark, and lonely well. But first I took a week to just cry and stare at the wall. After that I decided to move. I could no longer live in the house I bought for my children. By chance, I saw a video that inspired me and I decided to apply to graduate school. I got in, we moved, we sold our house, and school started. And I hated it. The rental house had plumbing problems, rendering the kitchen useless, and school SUCKED.

At my wit's end, with nothing working out, I started a blog.

And with that blog, I started receiving some much needed encouragement. I received so much care, so much UNDERSTANDING, from complete strangers and I really started to heal.

I debated quitting school and just impractically running away somewhere, anywhere with my husband, but then I remembered things like the car payment and the electric bill would need to be paid wherever we went. So I stayed. I decided I'd rather fail out than quit school, so I kept waking up in the morning, showering, getting dressed, and showing up.

But I was pretty sure I was going to fail. My school program is in the healthcare field and I don't feel like I have a science-y, biology-inclined brain. I'm great with people, not so much with dry textbooks. It was an uphill battle. Not only was school extremely difficult, but I was still grieving. And grief manifests in many different ways physically: fatigue, apathy, stomach aches, inability to concentrate (just to name a few).

And now?
After completing my first semester and making it halfway through the second semester?


Drumroll please...


I have been inducted into my future profession's honor society!!!!!

I am giddy with joy.
I am proud of myself.
I am thankful for your encouragement.

I am experiencing a very weird and foreign concept: success!

As I've written before, I will keep going. :)

Onward!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

My Infertility is Inconvenient for My Mother

I am pissed.

I don't understand what is so hard for my mother to understand.

Last night she asked if I was ever going to hang out with my cousin and his wife who just had a baby. I barely know these people. Yes, I went to their wedding last year, but I've seen my cousin two or three times in the last ten years. They live far away in another state. I wish them well and I'm happy for them, but, no, that is not a relationship I'm going to cultivate at this time. I told my mother, "No, not any time soon."

Then she said, "Well, I lost my mother, but I still hang out with other people who have their mothers."

Are you kidding me?? That's not even the same thing at all. And that's what I told her.

I said, "The two situations are not even comparable. You had your mother in your life and you have lots of happy memories with her. She lived a full life and died in her 80s which is quite normal."

I continued, "I am feeling judged right now. You think it's sad that I don't want to go hang out with some cousins? Well, that doesn't even compare to the sadness of losing my children so I don't even care. I will continue to take care of myself and do what I need to do."

Ridiculous!!!

I wish I hadn't, but I woke up this morning still mad at about it. I wish I was better at letting things go. I texted my best friend, who has heard a lot about my mother over the years, and told her my mom said some insensitive stuff last night but that's to be expected. She replied, "That's a great way to view her."

I want my mother in my life, and I choose to have my mother in my life. But, damn, it is hard a lot of the times.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Skipping Parties

Fifteen years ago I would have never skipped a friend's party.
But times have changed and so have the parties.

Last weekend one of my best friends from high school had a 1st birthday party for her second child and I was invited. I didn't go. I love this friend and she has been more compassionate and understanding than most, but I can't say the same about her friends. When I went to her first child's 1st birthday party, every conversation basically went as follows.

     Me: Hi, I'm Phoenix.

     Other Person: Hi, I'm Myrtle. How do you know Awesome Friend? We work together/have play
     dates together/went to prenatal yoga together/are in the neighborhood moms group together.

     Me: Oh, I've known Awesome Friend since we were 17. Isn't she the best?

     Other Person: Yes! So which kid is yours?

     Me: Oh, I don't have kids.

     Awkward silence... (Because there's absolutely nothing else to talk about in life, am I right?)

     Other Person: Well, I'm going to get another drink/slice of cake/check in with my husband.


So, despite my love for my friend I just couldn't muster the energy or interest to go to the birthday party. Instead of feeling bad or repeatedly questioning myself if I was making the right decision, I just decided and went on with my day. That is definite progress on my part.

The more I take care of myself, putting my feelings and considerations first, the easier it gets.

And guess what? The world doesn't end when I skip these parties.

In fact, better things continue to fill the space. Like last weekend for example. One of my husband's friends from college ended up coming in to town so we met up with him for several hours and it was a lot of fun. I would've missed that had I gone to the party where I would have inevitably been left standing by myself.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

I Do Not Miss TTC

I do not miss trying to conceive.
That was my first thought when I woke up this morning.

I do not miss charting my cycle. I do not miss taking my temperature every morning. I do not miss trying to time sex. I do not miss recording when we had sex.

I do not miss observing potential signs of pregnancy. (My boobs are extra sore. Does that mean something??)

I do not miss trying to analyze my cervical fluid. (Honestly, I could barely stand to even write that sentence down just now.)

I do not miss questioning everything I eat or drink. (Is sushi okay? Can I have a third beer even though I'm in my two week wait? Am I eating too much sugar? Am I consuming too much dairy? Am I not eating enough leafy greens? Is it okay to have a second cup of coffee?)

I do not miss taking 15 - 20 different vitamins and supplements every day. I do not miss worrying if I am exercising too much or exercising too little.

I do not miss reading TTC boards on the internet. I do not miss reading books that tell me how to conceive. I do not miss people's unhelpful, often hurtful comments and advice when they knew we were trying.

I do not miss going to doctor's appointments. I do not miss having ultrasounds. I do not miss getting my blood drawn. I do not miss injections. I do not miss wondering if bed rest is best or if I should resume normal activity.

I do not miss feeling jealous of every pregnant belly I see in the grocery store. I do not miss wondering how everyone else seemed to succeed while I was repeatedly failing. I do not miss getting my hopes up every time I ovulate. I do not miss crying every time I get my period.

That was a long, lonely, and depressing four years.
I do not miss trying to conceive. At. All.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Keep Going

What's that saying? When you're going through shit, keep going...

I am really not loving my current reality. I feel like a teenager writing this, but I really hate school. It's too bad. I've always liked school in the past. But this program... It's very disorganized and demanding, and none of the assignments are clear. I am mad that it is killing the spirit of my classmates. Everyone came in very enthusiastic and excited, but that is all gone now. Luckily, we are a special class and we all really care about each other so we will get through this together.

It's just personally annoying because I feel like I already "wasted" so much time with infertility and failed treatments with nothing to show for it. And now I am in this program, working hard and desperately waiting for graduation in a couple of years. By the end of it all, I will have spent seven years not really enjoying my life and that saddens me.

Of course, I am thankful for the opportunity to go back to school. I am thankful I had the opportunity to try fertility treatments. I am thankful for a whole lot. And I look forward to the little things too. A good meal. Laughing with friends. Hanging out with my dog.

It's just... I'm no spring chicken. And here I am, working toward a future that is still several years away.

I'm just very, very tired.

But I will keep going.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Felt Supported Yesterday

Yesterday I felt supported, and it felt good.

First, I went to my second counseling session with the counselor that works at my school. Dang, did I get lucky. She is good!! I have no idea what her political views are and whether or not she has children because she is able to put it all aside and just listen to me. I mean, that's what any professional should do but it's easier said than done. She provided me validation and, my favorite, put things into words that I had been previously unable to do.

I told her I wanted to keep working hard on my recovery because I want to go into pediatrics after I graduate. So I will need to be able to deal with parents and all of their parenting comments. I don't feel raw like I did two years ago, but I'm still wounded. I might always be, I might not. But I feel confident that I can get to a place where I can serve children and their families, because I freaking love kids!! Kids and I are drawn to each other, but I will save that for another post another day... :)

Our session ran over a little bit which made me late for class, but I didn't care. My mental health is more important than the first 10 minutes of a class lecture. However, my friends in class jokingly gave me a hard time for being late. Most of them have a long commute to school, but I live extremely close. So they thought I had just overslept or something. I told them, haha, no I was in counseling downstairs. I saw a brief look of surprise go across all of their eyes and then they all just smiled and said oh okay, cool. My one friend who actually knows about my infertility (the young guy with the baby) asked how it went and I said really good. He said great. He is a total dude, but he really has a sensitive side to him too. (Not saying guys can't be sensitive. Of course they can. Just saying he's a pretty cool guy and he's going to be great in our future profession.)

I don't mind telling people I'm going to the counselor. I think my classmates were surprised because I'm always the one laughing and cracking jokes in class. But I've dealt with depression my whole life and I always try to say comments to destigmatize getting help. In fact, one of my friends (she's 22- the age difference between me and my new school friends will never not crack me up) asked me about the counseling services after class, saying she was thinking about going. I told her the counselor was great and I was going to see her again next month. I mean, we get 12 free sessions a year and counseling is expensive. Why not go if you need it?

After class, I went up to my professor to apologize for my tardiness. She said it was okay and that she was glad I said something to her. I continued, sharing that I was downstairs in counseling and that it shouldn't happen again. She then said, "Oh, well, if you were in counseling it is definitely okay. I'm so glad you are taking advantage of that service." I told her thank you, that I was glad it was offered, that I have an issue outside of school that I'm dealing with, and that the counselor is very nice. Then she said, "Well, if you need any additional support, let me know. I am here."

Wow. It really touched me. I thought her response was just so nice and caring. <3

Yesterday was so good!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Got on my Soapbox for a Class Presentation, haha!

Yesterday I had to give a presentation in class. It was over one of the many neurodegenerative diseases: risk factors, signs & symptoms, treatment, etc. I'm having a hard time getting into this semester, so I didn't prepare what I was going to say. The only thing I planned was I planned on winging it. I had the factual information already documented in my presentation, and I figured I would just go over the facts with my classmates.

But before I knew what was coming out of my mouth, I got on my (professional-sounding) soapbox. I told my classmates that once we graduate and are out in the field working with our patients that we need to be mindful of what we say to them. I said our future patients will be dealing with life-altering traumas and we need to respect that. I said they will have friends check on them for a week or two, or a month or two, but after that everyone goes on with their own lives. I said our patients may be lonely, bored, sad, and frustrated. I told my class that it is imperative that we always consider the mental health of our patient, that many of them will get depressed.

Then, without planning to, I said the big thing. I said, "And please, never tell a patient that 'Everything happens for a reason.' That's simply not true. Some things just happen. And they are really, really bad. Please avoid telling them meaningless platitudes at all costs."

I paused for a moment to let that resonate and I noticed a couple of classmates nodding their heads. Then I figured I better get back to the facts and figures of my presentation so I did and wrapped it up. Afterwards, three different people told me they really appreciated my additional comments.

If I stopped even just one person from saying that insensitive phrase in the future, then yesterday's deviation from my presentation was worth it.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Friends

It's so nice to have friends again.

Infertility was devastating enough, but to feel like I was losing the majority of my friendships took it to another level. I was so hurt, sad, and lonely.

I understand that, when going through infertility, friendships with people who have children will change. They just don't get it and it's not really their fault. They are busy with play dates and birthday parties, and I just wasn't on their radar screen anymore. But it still hurt.

There was one friend, a very very close friend. I went to her baby shower. I went to her kid's birthday parties from age one to five. I confided in her during my IVFs. She knew, or I thought she knew, how important her kid was to me. I was looking forward to her kid's sixth birthday, bought a couple of presents and everything. Then I saw pictures of the birthday party on social media. I wasn't invited. Because I wasn't a mom. Crushed was an understatement. My husband stays pretty rational in these situations and, although he's not one to talk and talk and overanalyze with me, he indulged me a bit on this one. He said that while my friend cares about me, she just doesn't think about me. It would be different if I had a kid. It would probably even be different if we lived closer. (We live almost an hour apart.) He's probably right. But it still hurt. So, instead of mailing the birthday presents, I used the toys and games I had bought with the underprivileged elementary school students I was volunteering with. That was probably better anyway. Those kids got to enjoy some brand new things, and I got to enjoy it all with them.

So, of course things changed between me and my friends with children.

What I really didn't expect was for things to change between me and my friends without children. Two of my longtime best friends weren't trying for kids. You'd think they would be good friends to have, right? I did anyway. But they could not relate to me and my intense desire to get pregnant and have a baby. The texts became fewer, we saw each other less and less, and the distance grew. I honestly still don't fully understand it.

But overall, I'm not surprised that every relationship in my life has changed. You don't go through trauma and emerge the same person. The best takeaway I have from my experience with infertility is better boundaries. So maybe it was time for some of my friendships to come to an end. I couldn't be who I'd always been for those people because I wasn't that same person anymore.

No longer having these significant friendships left a lot of empty space in my life, empty space that I was not rushing to fill. Good, healthy friendships take time and I was okay with that. Besides, my counselor mentioned I was about to go back to school and meet a lot of new people. Thankfully, she was right. I have made several new friends in this program and I am really loving it. In fact, it is probably my favorite part of the program: my new friendships.

My husband and I like to go out for a couple of drinks and some dinner on Friday nights. We spend a lot of time together and are always caught up on each other's life, so we don't mind if we text other people while we are hanging out. I was texting a lot this past Friday. Joking around with one new friend from school. Talking about assignments and projects with a couple of others. I looked up and told him, "I'm so happy I have friends again." He just laughed and said, "I noticed."

I am such a social person, though I am much more introverted now when before I was a total extrovert. It was so hard to go through that major transition in friendships, but that's life. That's how it goes. I'm glad I didn't get bitter and I'm glad I've met some new people and we all make each other laugh so much.

Who knows what the future holds. I plan on relocating after graduation and I don't know anyone where I am planning to go. But I will get a job and I have interests and hobbies and will eventually meet people. Life is unpredictable. And it's much more fun with friends. :)

Friday, January 27, 2017

Letting Go

It's hard to let go of a lifelong dream, especially one that is so biologically and culturally ingrained. A dream that is so primal. A dream that others cannot let go of for you either. A dream where there feels like there is no room for the alternative in society. Not have kids? What?

I remember being a little girl and my mother telling me that people who don't have kids are weird. I doubt she even remembers saying this, but I remember it stung even though I was only 8 or 9 years old. I immediately thought, but what about all the people who can't have children? Or whose children have passed away? I was born an old soul and my little elementary school heart ached for the people who would be hurt by my mother's thoughtless comment.

But here I am, alive and kicking, without my children. I still think about them every day. Even though they never existed in the physical form on this planet.

I've noticed recently that one of the hardest things for me is pictures of mothers looking into the eyes of their babies. I can't stand to see the newborn pics, with the mom gazing lovingly at their new baby in their arms. I am happy for others, but those pictures cause me a lot of pain.

My school offers 12 free counseling sessions a year to students. I decided I needed a little bit more support. My husband is awesome, the few friends I confide in about infertility are awesome, the blogging community is awesome, but I think I need another place to speak freely. So I went in yesterday for my first appointment. Thankfully, I liked her. She was compassionate and didn't say anything stupid or insensitive.

I am proud of myself for how far I've come. A year ago today I was still living in my children's house. Since then, I've moved, sold the house, and started graduate school. I am happy and content more days than I am sad and questioning. But I still have work to do. And that's okay too.

Letting go of a lifelong dream is hard. ๐Ÿ’œ

Monday, January 23, 2017

It's Coming...

It has been awhile since anyone has said anything rude or insensitive to me about not having children, but I have a feeling some comments are headed my way...

First of all, I am in a new lab section this semester, and my new section has three people in it that have babies at home. Considering I am one of the oldest people in the program and I don't have kids, I am anticipating some sort of question soon.

Second of all, one of my new professors' first impression on me was not good. I believe she may be what I call "an insufferable fertile." During our first class meeting, she was discussing all of the different clinical settings she has worked in, but she was very adamant about having never worked in pediatrics. She said, with a touch of disgust in her voice, "I have my OWN kids. I don't NEED to work in pediatrics." Ouch. To his credit, my new school friend (the 24 year old dude with the baby) immediately turned to me and rolled his eyes. Today I heard from some other classmates that this same professor spent the first hour of lab this morning telling them all about her children.  I have her lab tomorrow.

It's coming... I don't know what, but I know something is coming...

The difference between now and a year or even six months ago is I am feeling less defensive. I also don't feel the need to explain myself. So when the inevitable comments are finally uttered, who knows if I will even respond. Maybe I'll just let the comments/questions hang in the air... I refuse to go into my trauma just to satisfy other people's curiosity or make them feel more comfortable.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Why I'm Blogging

Hello! I feel like it's been so long since I've written. I'm feeling a bit rusty... I got knocked down with a nasty cold and was out of commission in life for awhile. Not exactly how I wanted to start the semester but that's the way it goes sometimes... I've been catching up with reading everyone else's posts and I continue to be so grateful for this community.

*****

Why I'm Blogging


1. It helps me with my recovery.

Recovery from infertility is a very real thing and a very long, if not lifelong, process. After waiting around for a couple of years for a loved one, or anyone, to reach out to me and help me, I finally realized no one was coming. Furthermore, no one could do it for me. I had to figure out for myself what I was going to do. Thankfully, I had the support of my husband. But as someone who always relied heavily on girlfriends, I was still very lonely. Writing here helps me figure out what I'm thinking and feeling. It gives me a place to vent, whine, cry, or celebrate. And, most importantly to me, it gives me the opportunity to connect with others who understand from experience.


2. It helps me help others.

I honestly don't know where I'd be if it weren't for what I call the Blogging Pioneers. I spent a couple of years reading so many posts from women who were living life after infertility. It gave me hope and encouragement that life would be worth living again. It gave me comfort to know that I wasn't crazy and that what I was thinking and feeling was actually quite normal for someone in my situation. It also helped me stop fertility treatments. I'm thankful I had the opportunity to try treatment, but, as I shared in previous posts, they were not healthy for me. Despite my love for my doctor, nurses, phlebotomists, and the clinic overall, fertility treatments were killing my spirit and I needed to stop. I don't know if I would have been able to quit as easily as I did without reading everyone else's stories and learning how incredibly common it is for fertility treatments to not result in pregnancy. Now that I am moving on and working to take my life in a completely different direction, I hope I can help someone out there who may be where I used to be. It really does get good again! Even if that seems impossible to believe.


3. I want to preserve an extremely important friendship.

I have one amazing friend that I can say anything to. We had different paths in life, but she is also childless/childfree, and she also wanted children and would have been a freaking amazing mother. She has been there for me every step of the way. She has listened to me for years. But she is so important to me and I don't want to drag her down. My emotional stability and recovery from infertility is not her responsibility; it is mine. And even though she would welcome anything I felt I needed to tell her, I don't want to unload too much and burden her. That's not the kind of friend I want to be. So, while I am immensely thankful for her friendship and support, I realized I needed another outlet in which to express myself so I didn't overload our friendship.

*****

My second semester has started and, especially starting out so sick, I am already feeling overwhelmed. However, this blog and my health and recovery are important to me, so I will continue reading and writing here. If I can be helpful in any way, please let me know in the comments. You can also email me at infertilephoenix at gmail dot com.

I hope everyone's 2017 is off to a good start! I'm thinking now is a good time to start my new year's resolutions haha. :) They're always the same: eat well, exercise, and save money, and every year I get just a little bit better.

Onward! :)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Getting Excited

My textbooks for next semester came in the mail! They are technical and profession-specific and I am really excited! I wonder how long the excitement will last once I have tests and due dates hahaha.

I texted several different friends from school. They are all at least ten years younger than me. None of them are excited. They are all just fine with being on break.

But I don't need any more break. I need to get on with my life! :)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Days Like This

Days like this remind me of why I went back to school.

I'm still on winter break in between the fall and spring semesters. The first week I basically just slept. The second week I got to see some family that came in town. The third week I had lunches with friends I hadn't seen in several months. And now... I am bored. And it's not a good kind of boredom either. It's the questioning-my-life-decisions kind of boredom until I remember, oh yeah, I'm going back to school soon... Good!!

I'm sleeping too much and eating too little. My husband and my friends have gone back to work. I'm home all day and it reminds me of all my long and lonely days in 2012 - 2015. I've organized my study area so I'm prepared for the onslaught of my new classes when they begin, but I'm having a hard time finding any motivation or energy to get anything else done. I could very easily slip back into a depressive state, but I am fighting it. Plus, I know that I only have a week and a half left of this.

It's too bad I can't enjoy this break more. I will not have many more periods like this in my life. Here I have what everyone wants: a break from life, time to catch up, time to myself. But it is just too close in time to my experience with infertility and being on break right now is not the healthiest thing for me.

But I have awareness and gratitude, people who love me, a future to work toward, and this blog where I can write my true thoughts and feelings where I don't have to explain myself for you to understand.

Thank you. ๐Ÿ’œ